Ten score and eleven years ago (February 12, 1809), Abraham Lincoln was born. He is one of America’s favorite Presidents. Every year on the anniversary of his birth and his death, those respective dates cause me to think of him.
On Friday, April 14, 1865, at 10:13 PM, President Abraham was shot in the back of the head at point-blank range by John Wilkes Booth. It is believed by some that the assassin had originally intended to kidnap the President and use him in an exchange for some Confederate prisoners, but that all changed when Booth attended a speech and heard the President speak about voting rights for black Americans. The speech was delivered on April 11, 1865, three days before the murder.
President Lincoln was watching the play, “Our American Cousin” when Booth slipped in behind him, aimed at the back of his head and fired what would be a fatal shot at point-blank range. President Lincoln would die the next morning at 7:22 AM. A Presbyterian minister was asked to offer a prayer.
Lincoln reportedly never joined a church, but according to biographer James G. Randall, Lincoln was “a man of more intense religiosity than any other President of the United States.” Lincoln once told his friend Joshua Speed, “Take all of this book [the Bible] upon reason that you can, and the balance on faith, and you will live and die a happier and better man.”
The author, Bruce Feiler (2009) in his work, America’s Prophet – Moses and the American Story, reports that according to his wife Mary, Abraham Lincoln’s last words were, “there is no city on earth he so much desired to see as Jerusalem” (p. 170). Moments later he was shot.
He was shot on Good Friday that year, and America’s ministers took the opportunity to speak of his role in America.
I have incorporated his words in my classes and pointed out some interesting things about his life and so it is fitting that I should mark this day. Shortly after he died, Secretary of War Stanton said, “Now he belongs to the Ages.” So on this day, we should take note of a great American and a good man who stood up for the rights of all people. I for one, look forward to meeting him one day in Jerusalem, the place he longed to see. I have some things I want to talk to him about.